On Tuesday, the Los Angeles city council joined a growing list of city governments that have banned e cigarette use in parks, restaurants, and most workplaces.

The decision came after a heated debate at the City Council that highlighted the backlash smokeless cigarettes have generated as their popularity grows. Inform yourself on the new smoking trend with this Reason TV documentary short.

This video originally aired Oct 29, 2013. Original writeup is below

Electronic cigarettes are creating a frenzy among politicians, health experts, and the media. Local banson using e cigarettes indoors are popping up all over the country, and many interest groups are clamoring for top down FDA regulations, which are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

E Cigarettes currently exist in a complete no man s land, says Heather Wipfli, associate director for the USC Institute for Global Health. Skeptics such as Wipfli worry about the lack of long term data available because the product is so new.

But according to the Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternatives Association s Greg Conley, calls for regulation are “a perverse interpretation of the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle holds that until all possible risks are assessed, new technologies shouldn’t be allowed to move forward.

Conley points to preliminary studies, like this one from Drexel University, which confirm these smokeless, tobacco less, tar less products are not a cause for concern or at least not a cause for the same concerns that accompany traditional cigarettes and second hand smoke.

That Drexel University professor concluded that there was absolutely no worry about risks to bystanders from e cigarette vapor, says Conley.

The ingredients of e cigarettes certainly have very little in common with tobacco cigarettes. Nicotine, the only ingredient found in both products, is mainly used to wean smokers off traditional cigarettes and is not one of the harm inducing ingredients associated with lung cancer in smokers. The other ingredients in the e juice at the core of e cigarettes are propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and food flavorings all of which are used in other food products.

All we are doing is steaming up food ingredients to create a vapor, says Ed Refuerzo, co owner of The Vape Studio in West Los Angeles. The Vape Studio is one of the many boutique e cigarette shops popping up that might be significantly affected or even shut down by both local legislation and FDA regulations.

Conley says it’s the currently unregulated customizability of the e juice that allows these small businesses to thrive. The availability of liquids is what is allowing a lot of these small stores to open and prosper because they are able to mix their own liquid and sell it to consumers without having to go through a big manufacturing process, says Conley.

The higher costs of complying with regulations would most likely be passed on to consumers, which would impact people who are looking towards e cigarettes as an effective way to quit smoking.

We re using technology, and that s what we do in America, we use technology to solve really complicated problems, says Craig Weiss, president and CEO of NJOY. NJOY is a leading manufacturer of electronic cigarettes and a donor to Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason TV. Weiss says that despite regulations, the potential of the industry is only just starting to be realized.

The electronic industry is growing at quite a dramatic pace. It s more than doubled each of the last four or five years,” says Weiss. “This piece of technology could have such an potential impact on the world.

About 6 minutes.

A new cancer study found e-cigarettes affect cells the same as tobacco smoke

Scotland’s stupidity over plain packaging for cigarettes – telegraph
Image Linsay Fox/Flickr

Electronic cigarettes have taken a pounding in the press lately. First there was the revelation that the liquid nicotine in the device is poisonous and potentially deadly if consumed. Then there was the horrifying story of an e cig exploding in a bar in the UK not the first time this has happened.

Now to cap it off, one of the first studies to look at the biological effects of the digital nicotine sticks found “striking similarities” between the effect of vaporized e liquid and tobacco smoke on human cells. Further study is needed, but the similarity suggests vaping could increase the risk of cancer, despite being tobacco free.

“They may be safer than tobacco , but our preliminary studies suggest that they may not be benign,” said study author Avrum Spira, a genomics and lung cancer researcher at Boston University. The study was published in Nature and presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting this week.

Researchers studied bronchial cells in a culture medium. They found that when the cells were exposed to e cig vapor containing nicotine they showed similar gene mutations as the cells exposed to tobacco smoke, and determined to be at risk of becoming cancerous.

The next step is to test the genes altered by e cig vapor to see if they too show potential carcinogenicity.

It&#39 s just the latest study complicating the controversial question of over whether e cigs should be embraced as a healthier alternative to traditional smokes or banned outright. The answer to that largely hangs on a more specific question Is nicotine itself a carcinogen, or is it just the super addictive delivery system for the more toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke?

Research on the health effects of vaping is still in early phases, so there s no conclusive answer just yet. But previous studies have found that nicotine can, at least, promote or exacerbate certain types of cancer. At the moment, general perception in the medical community is that it&#39 s not the most dangerous toxin in tobacco, but it&#39 s not off the hook either.

Which doesn&#39 t help much for the moral quandary health experts find themselves in when it comes to e cigs. Are they OK because they&#39 re less dangerous than traditional cigarettes, even if they&#39 re still a little dangerous?

Spira said more research is needed. “These studies will determine the impact of e cig exposure on lung carcinogenicity and provide needed scientific guidance to the FDA regarding the physiologic effects of e cigs.”

Amid all the uncertainty, the Food and Drug Administration has taken its sweet time regulating the controversial gadgets, which have since skyrocketed from a novelty device to a booming billion dollar industry. Absent any federal guidelines, e cigs are being marketed willy nilly to kids, as a smoking cessation product, with no quality control.

A growing collection of states have taken it upon themselves to ban the digital cigarettes in the meantime, but vaping s Wild West days could be coming to an end. FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said last week that the agency is “pushing very hard” to complete a proposed rule for how to regulate e cigs, and expects to present it “very soon.”